Nat King Cole — Entertainer, and Political Activist

Karen Kaye
3 min readMay 3, 2023

Nat King Cole began performing in the late 1930s and spanned almost three decades, with over one hundred songs recorded that became hits on the pop charts. Cole was an American singer, jazz pianist, and actor. He died of Lung Cancer at the age of forty-five.

Nathaniel Adams Coles, known professionally as Nat King Cole, was born in Montgomery, AL on March 17, 1919, and died February 15, 1965, in Santa Monica, CA. He was married to Maria Cole from 1948–1965, and Nadine Robinson from 1937–1948. He had four children Natlie, Nat Kelly, Casey and Timolin Cole, along with three grandchildren Robert Adam Yancy, Julian Augustus, Justin Augustus.

However, Cole considered himself an entertainer and not an activist, as he often sought to assimilate with a white audience. The year 1956 was a pivotal year for Nat King Cole, and he began not just as an entertainer but also a pioneer for equal rights.

He joined other black entertainers in boycotting Jim Crow audiences, became a lifetime member of the NAACP, and took pains for the rest of his life to be a more visible participant in the civil rights movement, including playing a significant role in the 1963

At the same time, however, he contributed to civil rights causes such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and he filed lawsuits against northern hotels that refused him service. Still, Cole’s performances for “Jim Crow” audiences disturbed black activists.

He became the first African American performer to host a variety TV. series in 1956. For his contributions as a musician and vocalist, Nat King Cole is an American Hero. Cole was born on March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Nat King Cole made quite a stir in 1948 when he bought a home in Los Angeles, exclusive, white, enclave of Hancock Park. During their years there the Cole family endured years of harassment, including racial epithets left in their yard and the poisoning of a family dog.

Capitol Records is the building is known as “The House That Nat Built” due to the vast numbers of records and amounts of merchandise Nat King Cole sold for the company.

On March 27, 1942, the three men incorporated as Liberty Records (not Capitol’s future sister label Liberty Records). In May, the application was amended to change the label’s name to Capitol Records.

Also in 1958, Liberty formed a sublabel called Freedom which lasted through 1959, when Liberty moved to its long-time address at 6920 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. The of Off-Broadway shoes is now sitting on the site of the former liberty records.

Nat King Cole — Through The Years

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Karen Kaye

Hollywood Happenings is an on-line community newspaper, created, copyrighted and trademarked in 2003. I am an award winning sports writer, Red Carpet interviews